February 18, 2021: Aqua Metals, the lead battery recycling company, on February 17 said it was expanding into lithium-ion by buying 10% of LiNiCo, a US start-up ‘focused on creating economically viable and environmentally sustainable technologies for lithium-ion battery recycling’.
Aqua Metals and LiNiCo had already agreed a lease-to-buy arrangement for the Nevada AquaRefining facility, which was damaged by fire in November 2019. Aqua Metals has now committed $2 million, paid in Aqua Metals shares, for the 10% stake.
The move, says Aqua Metals, is part of its strategy to potentially apply its AquaRefining intellectual property to lithium-ion battery recycling.
In the same statement, Aqua Metals announced the launch of an ‘eco-network’ of itself, LiNiCo and two other firms, Green Li-ion and Comstock Mining Inc.
This would “advance the best-in-class technologies to recycling lithium-ion batteries at volume, both economically and sustainably”, the firm said.
“We believe a collaboration strategy with innovative companies that have multi-disciplinary backgrounds in metals, mining, high volume throughput, and hydrometallurgy is the best approach to solving the sustainability challenge of metals recycling, especially with lithium-ion batteries,” said CEO Steve Cotton.
“Forming an eco-network is an important step in our strategy for exploring the expansion of AquaRefining technology to other applications.”
There is certainly a looming lithium-ion battery problem, with the Institute for Energy Research estimating that between 2021 and 2030, 12.85 million tonnes of lithium-ion batteries will go offline worldwide — and that’s just from electric vehicles.
It says more than 10 million tonnes of lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese will be mined for new batteries.